As many active and veteran service members know, navigating the claims process at the Department of Veterans Affairs can be a confusing and daunting process. Jeff Stoffer, director of the magazine division at the American Legion, said “one of the biggest issues facing the VA right now, and frankly our service officers, is the heavy volume of benefits claims applications due to the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the aging of the Vietnam generation.”
Between the larger influx of claims and a struggling staff at the VA, the American Legion saw an opportunity to help the bottleneck of claims by educating and guiding veterans through the process. To help educate the veteran community, the American Legion created the Claims Coach application for iPhone and Android devices, which guides the user through the process of making a VA claim.
The Back Story
Originally, the American Legion Magazine Division was tasked with appealing to younger veterans and finding ways to reach them with information they wanted. The Claims Coach app is among a new trend in veteran services which will focus on social media and mobile applications to grab the attention of the growing numbers of younger veterans.
They (younger veterans) did not want an iPad version of The American Legion Magazine. They wanted information to help them make transitions into civilian life. They wanted to know how The American Legion could help them understand the different kinds of GI Bill benefits available to them. They wanted to know what the Legion could do to help them get jobs. They wanted to know what the Legion could do to help them understand and file for their VA benefits. They wanted information relevant to their lives, not feature stories about national security threats. — Jeff Stoffer, The American Legion Magazine
Armed with this information about the community, the Legion began to build a mobile application that veterans and their families could use anywhere in the palm of their hand to learn more about their benefits and the claims process.
Who Can Use It?
Upon downloading the app, you are prompted to take a short survey to determine if the app is right for you. This survey first announces the type of information available so no one is disappointed and also to help personalize the suggestions and available options for the user. The general information in the app is tailored for honorably discharged veterans looking for help filing claims for service-connected conditions.
Why You Should Download
The VA claims process can be confusing and according to Jeff that contributes to there being nearly one million undecided claims right now. The number one reason you should download the app is to help make sure all of your own paperwork is filled out correctly and filed at the right time to streamline the claims process so you don’t become one of the many undecided files.
One of the best features of the app is the included glossary, which explains important terms, acronyms and documents that you will need to be familiar with to have your claim processed successfully. For more on what all is included, you can check out the online users guide here.
Photo courtesy of Yutaka Tsutsano